Tuesday 10 November 2015

Next 10 days decides VW's future

The next 10 days will decide the future direction of Volkswagen AG as the company’s boss and head of the works council meet to thrash out the way forward for the troubled company.

The chief executive officer of Volkswagen, Matthias Müller, and chairman of the Group Works Council of Volkswagen AG, Bernd Osterloh, have agreed on procedures for investment and capacity planning.

A series of talks between the board of management and the employee representative body will take place over the coming ten days in order to find a common path for the future of the company.

Müller said: “In the present difficult situation we must jointly make decisions that factor in economics just as much as employment. I attach great importance to the views and experience of our works councils. In light of the changed circumstances, we are facing an ambitious task. We will be prioritizing forward-looking products and technologies. Bernd Osterloh and I agree that this is the key factor for reliably safeguarding both the future success of our company and employment.”

Osterloh commented: “Matthias Müller will personally take charge of cooperation between the Board of Management and the Works Council. That is a strong signal for the workforce. We will join him on the road to the future because we believe he is a reliable partner. We are seeking shared decisions in the interest of the company, shareholders and employees. The challenges are enormous, but the workforce will stand behind the company as long as we succeed in agreeing on a balanced package of investments, economy measures and forward-looking projects. The discussions between Matthias Müller and myself have laid the foundation for that.”

According to Reuters, Osterloh said last Friday the announcement of cuts by VW brand chief Herbert Diess had broken German rules on co-determination by executives and labor, and demanded immediate talks with company bosses.
Trades union leaders are irritated by Diess who four months after taking the helm of the VW brand has also ordered a freeze on managerial promotions in a move that limits the clout of the works council, one source close to VW's supervisory board said on Monday.

"The challenges are huge but the workforce is backing the company as long as we manage to come up with a balanced strategy for investments, savings measures and future projects," Osterloh said.

VW's supervisory board is due to approve spending plans on plants, equipment and technology for coming years at a meeting on November 20.

The 20-member panel, which gives nine seats apiece to workers and shareholder representatives, met Monday of this week at the Wolfsburg headquarters to discuss the latest findings on the diesel emissions scandal and the manipulation of carbon dioxide emissions data.

                                        Further staff moves

Separately, Volkswagen said its head of corporate communications, Andreas Lampersbach, quit on Monday, joining a wave of departures as the scandal over its manipulation of emissions tests escalates.

In a further move, Walter Maria de Silva (64), head of group design, is retiring with effect from the end of this month. De Silva assumed design responsibility for all passenger car brands within the Volkswagen Group in February 2007. He will continue his links with the Group in an advisory capacity.

Walter Maria de Silva was born in Lecco (Italy) on February 27, 1951 and joined the Volkswagen Group 17 years ago when he became Head of the SEAT Design Centre in 1998. He was put in charge of the design of the Audi brand group, including the brands Audi, Lamborghini and SEAT, in 2002.

His new design language with Audi was epitomised by the 6th generation of the Audi A6 and Audi A5 Coupé. He was appointed head of group design at Volkswagen AG in 2007. He saw the main focus of his work as design chief in establishing and nurturing a common design culture across all brands, which nevertheless allows each brand to retain a high degree of creative autonomy.

In Sweden, changes are afoot next year at Scania, a relatively quiet part of the VW Group these days compared with the rest of the maelstrom. The board of directors of Scania has appointed Henrik Henriksson as the new president and chief executive officer of Scania AB.

He takes up his position on 1 January 2016 and succeeds Per Hallberg. Henriksson will from the same date become a member of the Volkswagen Truck & Bus Management Board (Truck Board).

“Henrik Henriksson is a capable and experienced person, with great entrepreneurial spirit and visionary leadership. He has the right profile to lead and develop the company in the long-term,” says Andreas Renschler, CEO of Volkswagen Truck & Bus GmbH, member of the board of management of Volkswagen AG, responsible for group commercial vehicles, and chairman of Scania AB.

This is surely stating the obvious; if he did not possess these qualities he would not be getting the job!

Henriksson, born 1970, holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He has been a member of Scania’s executive board since 2012 and is currently executive vice president and head of sales and marketing. He joined Scania as a management trainee in 1997 and has held a number of senior positions in the company’s marketing organisation.

1 comment:

Alan Bunting said...

Even given the dire straits in which VW finds itself, it is clear that labour relations in the German auto industry remain harmonious. (Though everything in the country in that regard is not all sweetness and light. Lufthansa is presently suffering its 13th strike in two years.)
The existence in German manufacturing companies of Works Councils, as peacemakers or intermediaries, between employers and unions, is obviously key to the commercial success which has proved elusive to many actual and potential non-German competitors, notably in the UK and US.